Poisonous And Medicinal Plant: Foxglove Or Digitalis Purpurea

1821 words - 7 pages

Digitalis purpurea, commonly known as the foxglove is one of the deadliest but at the same time most medicinal plants in our world. This flowering plant is very widespread being found in much of temperate Europe and parts of North America. While, the leaves, flowers, and seeds are all poisonous to us and other animals, compounds have been extracted from the species and are used in heart medicines and other medicinal products that we still use today. The foxglove can grow in very little soil and can often be found in many cracks and crevices making it a very common and recognizable plant species (Royal Botanic Gardens, 2011).
Digitalis purpurea is a biennial plant meaning that it only lives for two years and after that it dies, and reproduces (Cornell, 2014). It has soft, pubescent, ovate to lanceolate shaped leaves forming a basal rosette. During the first year of growth the plant forms a basal-rosette and does not mature until the next years grow cycle (Cornell, 2014). During the second year of growth the foxglove begins to grow a flowering stem that can reach 3-6 feet high (Cornell, 2014). The flowers form a spike growing off of the stem and can bear up to 20 flowers on each stem. Each flower is about 2” and bilaterally symmetric coming in a wide variety of colors such as; purple, lavender, pink, yellow, and white (Brun, 2014). Each flower has five petals that are fused into a coronal tube. The flowers hang down in a droop-like fashion and only come off of one side of the stalk, and last about four weeks. The foxglove is extremely poisonous and is lethal if ingested; all parts of the plant are toxic including; roots, stems, flowers, leaves, and so on. While, every part of this plant is toxic it is most potent when the seeds have ripened with the upper leaves being more toxic than the lower leaves (Cornell, 2014).
Digitalis purpurea is a member of the Plantaceae family which is part of the Scrophulariales order (USDA, 2014). The Scrophulariales order contains 10 various families such as the Olive family, and the Sesame family. The Plantaginaceae family, commonly known as the Snapdragon family can be distinguished from other families by their bisexual flowers with tubular corollas, that are bilaterally symmetrical and have four stamens two of which are usually shorter than the other two (Departments of Parks and Wildlife, 2014). The Plantaginaceae family contains 104 genus’ and over 1800 species (Department of Parks and Wildlife, 2014).
Digitalis purpurea is native to Europe and is primarily found in Norway, Spain, and Britain; but along with Europe the foxglove can also be found in most parts of America and some parts of Canada (Durheim, 2007). The foxglove can grow in a wide variety of environments in either shade or in the open in exposure to the sun. They also can grow in either dry or moist soil, as long as there is a decent amount of nitrogen in the soil. The foxglove often times grows in areas that have...

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